In all honesty, there’s little that can be said about Foals’ recent tour that hasn’t already been said. They’ve been crushing it wherever they turn up, playing fantastically and getting some huge love from their audiences at every gig they do; their show at Manchester Arena on February 13th was no different. At this point, it’s a widely held view that they (along with equally stunning support act Everything Everything) are one of the best live acts in the country. I have to agree, but not without applying a sense of reflection to the subject, just like Mark Twain would’ve wanted.
Perhaps it should be pointed out how I hold very opposite views about the bands’ most recent albums. In short, I found Foals’ to be as exciting as Shredded Wheat, and Everything Everything’s to be not only one of the best albums of that year, but also one of the most creatively jaw-dropping.
As such, Everything Everything’s set was undeniably captivating for me. A punchy set (and I mean punchy, the band didn’t waste a second for unnecessary chit chat) of mostly new material (they played nothing from breakout album ‘Man Alive’), the band, adorned in surprisingly stylish matching jackets, or in the case of Jonathan Higgs, Jedi robes, were brilliant.
Again, something that’s been written about endlessly is how fantastic ‘No Reptiles’ off their newest album is live. I was skeptical, I didn’t love that song, but the masses were right about it live. Perhaps it’s the harmonies, perhaps the added savagery of the synthesizer through PA speakers, either way it was the highlight of the set, but certainly not by default, as the whole show was superb. The only thing that held it back was the lack of visuals and space for the band to move, but then that’s the trade off of being a support act, and Everything Everything made it their own nonetheless. Highlights also included a bombastic rendition of ‘Distant Past’, as well as ‘Cough Cough’ and ‘Fortune 500’.
Foals, capitalizing on the levity of Everything Everything’s aftermath, launched into a brutal set of hits, and also brought a kaleidoscopic LED backdrop, which moved higher or lower depending on the mood of the song, a nice touch. ‘Snake Oil’ kicked off the set, and the energy level remained consistent throughout, with the struggle for supremacy in the various mosh-pits being an ongoing battle. But the real supremacy went to the musicality of the band themselves, who didn’t make a single false step, even when lead singer Yannis Philippakis was engulfed by the crowd upon which he was surfing. It was a blistering affair, and unlike Everything Everything, the band even delved into their first album material, cranking out Two Steps Twice to the surprise and delight of the crowd.
Can a band’s impressive live status mitigate an underwhelming album? No, but Foals’ performance did make me at least go back and re-listen to ‘What Went Down’ (my opinion of it is largely unchanged), as well as delve deeper into their back catalogue, so perhaps that’s all the matters.
Either way, both acts were hugely exciting to watch, though I would have liked to see more of Everything Everything. If you catch a chance to see them or Foals nearby, go. You won’t ‘Regret’ it (I couldn’t resist).